Tuesday, March 10, 2020

People v. Corrales (Cal. Ct. App. - March 10, 2020)

It's not a huge deal.  But you have to wonder what the trial judge was thinking here.

For reasons entirely unexplained in the opinion, and that are perhaps unexplainable, Mr. Corrales burns a palm tree next to a strip mall.  He gets charged with a couple of felonies, but the jury elects to convict him only of a misdemeanor.

Mr. Corrales gets sentenced to six months in jail, but since he couldn't make bail, he'd already been there, and had nearly a year of custody credits.  So he gets released immediately.

But on his way out of the courtroom, the judge tells him not to go back to the strip mall.  It's not a condition of probation or anything (there's no probation).  It's just an order.  She says:

“[H]e should stay away from that location, because everyone at that location who was there that day and saw what he did and went through that obviously would be upset to see him on that property again. . . . I am going to order you – again, this has no teeth to it, other than telling you not to go to that location, and it would be a violation of the court order if you go to that location. But again, if you don’t follow it, it’s certainly not a violation of probation, it’s a violation of a court order which could mean a new charge against you.”

The judge apparently means he can't ever go back to the place, since there's no time limit on the order.  Mr. Corrales appeals.  The Court of Appeal reverses, holding that there's neither statutory nor implicit authority for the imposition of any such order.

Which seems right.  But which leaves the judge's reasoning unclear.  Why issue an order that she says has "no teeth to it?"  Why is it so critical that he be excluded from the strip mall -- sure, I'm sure the people there would rather not see him, but as long as he's not burning anything or annoying anyone, what's the harm?  And I presume that if it's private property the owners can always give him a no trespassing order themselves.

I'm sure that the trial judge was well-intentioned.  It just seems odd to add a "toothless" order at the very end like this.  I'd love to know if there was more to it, or what the judge was thinking.

Regardless, no authority for such an order.  So away it goes on appeal.